New Report Catalogues Chemical and Radiation Links to Breast Cancer

Oct 01, 2010, 10:28 ET from Breast Cancer Fund

Scientists, health advocates call for national breast cancer prevention plan

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A report released today by the Breast Cancer Fund presents a comprehensive summary of the scientific data on the environmental causes of breast cancer. The report catalogues the growing evidence linking breast cancer to synthetic hormones in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and meat; pesticides in food; solvents in household cleaning products; BPA in food containers; flame retardants in furniture; and radiation from medical treatments. The report also highlights impacts on infants, pregnant women, African-American women and workers, and outlines the policy initiatives required to develop a national breast cancer prevention plan.

The report's author, Janet Gray, Ph.D., professor at Vassar College, said that widely understood risk factors for breast cancer such as genetic mutations, reproductive history and lifestyle factors do not address a considerable portion of risk. "A substantial body of scientific evidence indicates that exposures to common chemicals and radiation also contribute to the unacceptably high incidence of breast cancer," Gray said. "This report focuses on these environmental issues."

A woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8—representing a dramatic increase since the 1930s, when the first reliable cancer incidence data were established. Strikingly, the increasing incidence of breast cancer since the 1930s parallels the proliferation of synthetic chemicals. Today, approximately 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered for use in the United States, more than 90 percent of which have never been tested for their effects on human health.

"The President and Congress have a historic opportunity to change the course of the war on cancer and protect the public from toxic chemicals," said Janet Nudelman, co-author of the report and policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund. "There are immediate implications for legislation moving through Congress, including efforts to restrict the toxic chemical BPA, to ensure cosmetics are safe and to reform the broken Toxic Substances Control Act."

"Virtually every American has been touched by breast cancer," said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president of the Breast Cancer Fund. "This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have to move beyond awareness to prevention. Action now means fewer of our children and grandchildren will face the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer. We simply can't afford not to act."

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SOURCE Breast Cancer Fund